This year, our community goal for swimming and water safety was zero drownings during the season. Last year, 14 children drowned in Maricopa County. And unfortunately, we are on a nearly identical pace midway through this year.
Arizona is second in the nation for child drowning, behind Florida. As we head further into the summer, we all can be aware of basic actions that prevent devastating deaths.
Supervision is the core of water safety. When small children are in the vicinity of pools or water, check for a variety of barriers and safety devices, such as fences, latched gates and pool covers.
Swimming lessons and flotation devices are critical, but they are not substitutes for supervision. Though the pool is an obvious potential hazard, children can drown in bathtubs, buckets or toilets. Never leave a child unattended.
The Maricopa County Environmental Services Department has more than 8,500 public and semipublic pools under permit in our metro area. Included are pools at apartment complexes, water parks, health clubs and resorts. Inspectors conduct routine visits of each pool and respond to citizen complaints. Last year, the department performed 20,299 pool inspections.
Inspectors check for safety, operational requirements and equipment. One of the most important things they look for is proper pool fencing and gates. Other critical items that are checked include sufficient disinfectants, water clarity, adequate circulation and safety devices.
Critical pool violations require the inspector to conduct a reinspection to ensure compliance. These violations also may result in immediate closure of the pool and suspension of the owner's permit. Maricopa County is serious about pool safety.
Here are some basic tips for this summer, while enjoying the pool at home or other water activities:
- Never leave children unsupervised and never assume someone else is watching your child.
- Enforce safety rules. Take time to explain the importance of following rules.
- Check out a pool. Is the water clean and clear? Where is the deep end? Is there a lifeguard on duty? Where is the rescue equipment and how is it used? Where is the phone and can you dial out directly?
- Look for possible water hazards, such as puddles, buckets, bathtubs, toilets, dog bowls.
- Have children wear approved lifejackets, especially if boating.
- Make your child visible with bright-colored swimwear.
- Learn CPR/CCR, and keep instructions with you and make certain a phone is accessible in case you must call 911.
- In an emergency:
1. Shout for help;
2. Pull the child from the water;
3. Call 911 for help, and
4. After checking the child's airway, immediately begin CPR/CCR if necessary.
Let's aim for no more drownings this summer. We can do it if we think of safety precautions and stay alert.
For more information or to report any apparent violations in a public or semipublic pool, you may visit www.maricopa.gov/envsvc or call Maricopa County Environmental Services complaint line at 602-506-6616.
Maricopa County Supervisor Fulton Brock, R-Chandler, represents District 1.
Reproduced with permission from::
The Arizona Republic
©Copyright 2008 Arizona Republic
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